Schedule analysis — 2020-21 Syracuse basketball preview

Syracuse Guard Buddy Boeheim
Dec 18, 2019: Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim looks to shoot against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

(Note: The basketball schedule is not finalized, as the program is awaiting two more non-conference games to be added.)

The Orange get a slightly better start during the second year of the 20-game ACC conference schedule. Instead of opening against Virginia, who were the defending national champs, Syracuse gets to play a game that counts before jumping into the deep end of ACC play.

Four ACC teams appeared in the pre-season poll, led by #4 Virginia. Duke and North Carolina start off ranked #9 and #16, respectively, while Florida State is slotted at #21 in the nation. The fifth conference team picked in front of SU on the preseason conference media poll, Louisville, also garnered votes in the pre-season AP poll. The Orange will face off with Virginia and Duke once each on the road and match up with the Tar Heels and Cardinals in home-and-home sets.

All told, Syracuse has a pretty average schedule in conference play with seven games against the five teams in front of them and the remaining 13 against the nine teams behind them. SU’s success against the teams predicted to finish near them in slots 7-10 (Miami, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Clemson) will likely determine their finish and how exactly they appear in relation to the NCAA Tournament bubble. Those six games (hosting Miami, at Georgia Tech, and home-and-home sets with N.C. State and Clemson) are probably more important than any others on their schedule.

As in most seasons, the back end holds the toughest stretch, as television networks want premier content with football wrapped up. The Orange close with road trips to Louisville and Duke and a home game with North Carolina in their final five outings, the latter two on Monday nights.

The non-conference schedule is still being assembled as the season approaches. While the Georgetown game draws the eye of fans, SU’s toughest opponent outside of the ACC is expected to be #24 Rutgers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Scarlet Knights were 20-11 and 11-9 in conference play when the season was canceled prior to the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoyas, meanwhile, finished 15-17 last season, dropping their final seven contests. Syracuse, however, will be looking for a measure of revenge after falling to Georgetown last season.

The three other non-conference opponents known at this time are Buffalo, Bryant and Rider. Buffalo finished fourth in the preseason poll for the MAC and have a strong returning trio of Jayvon Graves, Josh Mballa, and Jeenathan Williams, so they should not be overlooked. Bryant is probably more in line with what the average fan expects of a team coming to Syracuse to start the season. It remains to be seen who will fill the three remaining available slots on the slate.

Rider from the MAAC is coming off a season where they finished 18–12 (12–8 MAAC) and were fourth in the conference standings.

While the schedule is still incomplete with a few non-conference tilts yet to be confirmed, it is likely as tough as it will be in its current form. The question is if this year’s team, which is strikingly similar to last year’s squad, has improved to any significant degree.

» Related: Last season review, first look at the 20-21 Cuse basketball team

2020-21 Syracuse basketball schedule

Type
Fri, Nov 27
vs Bryant 3:00 PM EST
ACCN
Non-Conference
Sat, Dec 5
vs Rider 6:00 PM EST Non-Conference
Tue, Dec 8
@ (24) Rutgers 9:30 PM EST
ESP2
Big 10/ACC Challenge
Sat, Dec 12
@ Boston Coll. Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Dec 19
vs Buffalo Time: TBD Non-Conference
Tue, Dec 22
vs Notre Dame Time: TBD ACC
Wed, Dec 30
@ Wake Forest Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Jan 2
@ (16) N. Carolina Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Jan 9
vs Georgetown Time: TBD Non-Conference
Tue, Jan 12
vs Clemson Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Jan 16
@ Pittsburgh Time: TBD ACC
Tue, Jan 19
vs Miami (FL) Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Jan 23
vs Virginia Tech Time: TBD ACC
Mon, Jan 25
@ (4) Virginia Time: TBD ACC
Sun, Jan 31
vs N.C. State Time: TBD ACC
Wed, Feb 3
vs Louisville Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Feb 6
@ Clemson Time: TBD
ACC
Tue, Feb 9
@ N.C. State Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Feb 13
vs Pittsburgh Time: TBD ACC
Wed, Feb 17
@ Louisville Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Feb 20
vs Boston Coll. Time: TBD ACC
Mon, Feb 22
@ (9) Duke Time: TBD ACC
Sat, Feb 27
@ Georgia Tech Time: TBD ACC
Mon, Mar 1
vs (16) N. Carolina Time: TBD ACC

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About Jim Stechschulte 687 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.